Group: Sabah, Sarawak land codes are different


newsdesk@thestar.com.my 

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah and Sarawak’s land codes will not be affected by the controversial Federal Court’s 2001 decision on the Adrona Properties vs Boonsom Boonyanit case. 

“It may be pointed out that Sabah and Sarawak have their own respective Land Codes which differ from the National Land Code in certain respects,” the Sabah and Sarawak law and advocates associations said in a joint statement issued here recently. 

They said the case in question was under the National Land Code and did not apply to the two East Malaysian states based on the narrow interpretation. 

The two law bodies also said the decision of the Federal Court is binding on the lower courts based on the common law principle of stare decisis or binding precedent. 

“The lower court is bound to follow the decision of the Federal Court even if the decision may be criticised as wrong. The application of such a decision can only be changed by the Federal Court overruling it or Parliament passing the necessary law,” the statement said. 

The statement came following a Court of Appeal decision on July 13, in an appeal involving a fraudulent land transfer, that held the controversial Federal Court judgment in Adrona Properties vs Boonsom Boonyanin as wrongly decided. 

In that case, the Federal Court found in favour of Adrona Properties, the purchaser, on the grounds that the National Land Code strictly followed the doctrine of “indefeasibility of title.” 

The Court of Appeal instead was unanimous in allowing with costs the appeal by the original property owners – brothers Au Meng Nam and Ming Kong – and in ordering that title be registered in their names instead of the purchaser Ung Yak Chew.  

Sabah Justice of Peace Council secretary Datuk Lawrence Thien also raised concern over calls not the follow the Federal Court decision in the Adrona case. 

“Such calls will have grave consequences on the legal system and administration of justice in Malaysia as they disregard the time-tested and foundational doctrine of stare decisis,” he said in a statement. 

He said to adopt a different rule would bring chaos and uncertainty to the justice system and hoped the Federal Court would review the decision at the earliest opportunity.